Meet grime's 'white midget', Lady Sovereign...





It's unusual to see Sovereign's name without at least a mention of 2004's most overused epithet - 'chav'. Described variously as 'chav scum ambassador' (ideasfactory) or 'ugly chav heifer' ( - for the record, she ain't at all ugly, but big-eyed and cute as fuck - her scrapeback, ubiquitous sovereign ring, and tracksuit addiction have led some to see her as spokesperson for the minority group it's still ok to hate. Would she describe herself as a 'chav'?


'I don't know if I'm a chav or a charv or whatever… I'm on the chav website as this number one chav, and I'm like, errgh? It's always, like, yeah, Lady Sovereign, pikey jewellery from Argos' - she points to the big gold ring on her right hand - 'but this didn't even COME from Argos! My mate got it for me, and it's like ONE sovereign… it's not like my hands and neck is drenched in gold, man…'


Like any teen music freak, she sees it as part of an ongoing, age-old battle between townies and misfits - like Pulp's Misshapes seen from the other side. 'I think the people behind this whole chav thing are like these rock kids, these skaters, who just don't like the fact that certain people dress this way and that way. On the chavspotting website, they've got me, they've got Shystie, they've got Lady Fury - but they've also got Beckham and J-Lo. I'm like, so, everyone who's not got long hair and bits of grease coming out and guitars is a chav, right?


Internet bulletin boards are full of claims she's a 'wigga', chatting ragga-flavoured rhymes in a patois she's not entitled to because she's white. 'It's just how I talk. I was brought up round Chalkhill and Neasdon, and that's how everyone talks. It depends - like when I'm with my friends, you probably wouldn't be able to understand a word I'm saying…Just like, ya, yeah, yah gwaaan, you cool yeah… things like that, ah its blitz ahtside like… even the tone of my voice would change. It depends who I'm talking to.'


' Like now, I'm talking normally, but when I'm MCing my voice just goes YOOOOOWWW, it's just deeper. It did take me a while to find my voice - my MCing voice - because before the YOOOOWWWW it was more like 'Yeah!!! Ah!!! Yeah gonna get liveleeee!!!!!!!', really high and girly. And I was thinking this ain't gonna work, and I just sat there for hours and hours, and suddenly it was YOOOOWWWW, and I was like *gasp!* that's it! this is great!!!!! Most girls just use their own voice to MC but it's just too squeaky. That's why it took me a long time to find my voice. And I was quite timid before I found my voice and once I found it, I was really confident.'



Though she's now ditched the majority of her sovereign rings ('alright, I was a chav, I admit it, I used to have loads of gold on my hands, but then they all fell off when I was drunk because my fingers were too skinny!') and moved out of her mum's place on the Chalkhill Estate, it doesn't seem likely that Sovereign's gonna posh up in the near future.


'I won't cook. I'll go to the chip shop or Macdonald's.' And she doesn't envisage herself leaving her beloved London any time soon. 'I went to the country recently and it was mad! All the sheep, and the cows and everything. Some of these places were so dead and quiet and empty. I'm like, how do you lot even have electricity?'


'I'm glad I live in London. I reckon I wouldn't have the personality I have if I didn't. I wouldn't sound the way I do, and I wouldn't be listening to the music I'm listening to. I'd probably be, like, an indie kid or something.' At which point she laughs derisively, lights up a Sovereign, and smooths her scrapeback. Sovereign - a cheeky midget tracksuited chav female with rapping skillz and a multi-million pound record deal. Long may we be subject to her cheek.


To find out more, see

This article previously appeared in Good for Nothing magazine. Pick one up: it's free, and it's ace!


Sovereign's top three club nights in the capital

Suga Suga, on Wardour St, every Monday. It's grime artists and rappers, but it's all acoustics. You're not allowed backing tracks, so either you get a beatbox or a drummer or guitar in. It's a good place to hear the grime element put in an acousitc context.

Fabric. There's a new night on Fridays, just a garage night with mcs, that's brilliant.

My house! Saturday nights. Gatheration Nation. I invite the same group of people every week. Last week it was at my dad's, cuz he went away - shh! You know those biscuits, Party Rings? To get in you've gotta bring Party Rings. That's the maddest club night even though it's not public. I got all the decks, we do MCing. It's wicked.


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